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How To Calculate An Estimate For Drywall Services

Author: Route Nation

This article outlines how Building Service Contractors can calculate Estimates for Drywall services, things to remember while you quote drywall work, tools that can help with a drywall estimate, and everything you need to submit a drywall service proposal.

Everything You Should Know About Drywall Estimates

Drywall installation is a highly specialized trade that involves a thorough walkthrough, a formal inspection, and the creation of a drywall service proposal with a final estimate included.

As a drywall contractor, you want to make sure you are properly assessing all your expenses before you give the contract to the client.

This article will talk about some of the common cost factors in drywall installation you should be aware of when writing your next estimate.

Square Footage

Drywall jobs are measured by the square foot. Note that this measurement is the square footage of the walls, not the square footage of the home. When performing your initial walkthrough tour, measure all the surfaces that will need drywall and record them carefully in your notes.

Standard drywall prices range from about $0.24 – $0.70 per sq. ft. This is just the price of the drywall itself—this does not include your labor markup.

The price contractors charge for drywall installation ranges from $1.50-$3.00 per square foot.

How much drywall you need for the project will vary greatly from job to job, but drywall usually comes in 4x8’ (32 sq. ft.) or 4x12’ (48 sq. ft.) pieces.

To determine how many pieces you will need, take the total square footage of the walls and ceilings that need drywall (let’s say it’s 650 sq. ft.) and divide it by either 32 or 48. 650/32=20.31, or 21 sheets of drywall.

Types Of Drywall

Drywall comes in many different types, each with a different price point.

The cheapest drywall is standard 1/4” thick drywall, which is priced from $0.24-$0.32/sq. ft.

From there, the drywall goes up in thickness to 3/8, 1/2, and 5/8”, with an incremental increase in price ranging from $0.27-$0.41.

Moisture and fire-resistant drywall start in the $0.40+ range, but the most expensive type on the market is sound-proof drywall, which is $0.95-$2.25/sq. ft. before labor and markup.

When using an estimate building tool, look for one that allows you to easily customize your supplies and materials by type and price - like Route.

Since drywall installation is a one-and-done job, you will list out your supplies, select, “one-time costs”, and enter the cost of the drywall. From there, you can select an appropriate markup and Route’s bidding software will do the math for you. You can use this feature for any materials you plan to bill your client for.

Drywall Finishes

Drywall comes in five levels of finish (six if you count level 0). It is up to the client to decide which one is right for them.

The five levels are:

  • LEVEL 0: The bare minimum. Drywall is hung to the wall with joints and fasteners exposed.
  • LEVEL 1: Basic finishing. The drywall is hung as in level 0, but the seams are covered with tape and the joints are covered with joint compound.
  • LEVEL 2: Similar to level 1, but the entire wall is covered in compound. This is often done to prepare for tiling.
  • LEVEL 3: The panels receive a second layer of compound to ensure a smooth finish.
  • LEVEL 4: The panels receive three layers of compound to prepare for painting or light texture.
  • LEVEL 5: The highest level of finish. The panels get three layers of compound plus a skim coat. This is done to prepare for gloss-enamel paint or areas of severe lighting.

Other Cost Factors

In addition to different finishes, there are other special conditions that might influence your price. This includes things like transportation to and from the job site, site preparation, non-standard features such as curves or arches, and debris removal. All of these cost factors can be added to your estimate.

Assessing Labor

Drywall jobs usually take crews of two, but if you have a large job, you may want to bring more workers to help.

Some reasons you might want extra hands are to help maneuver drywall through tight spaces,

to assist with hanging it to the wall, or to help with clean up and debris removal.

If you are paying your help by the hour, you’ll want to add your labor charges to your estimate. Within Route, there is a feature that allows you to choose between different pay scales so you can account for different positions on your team.


Hanging drywall is a job that is best left to professionals like yourself. Before writing your drywall estimate, there are several things you should check.

First, make sure you’ve accurately calculated the square footage of the drywall you will be installing. Remember this is the measurement of the wall space, not the dimensions of the floor plan.

Next determine the type of drywall you will be using. Drywall comes in several varieties and thicknesses, so meet with your prospect ahead of time to decide what is right for them.

Since drywall comes in 32 or 48 square foot pieces, you can calculate the number of sheets you will need by taking the total square footage of the walls divided by 32 or 48. Remember that you always round up.

Assess what kind of finish you will be applying. Higher levels of finish will require more supplies, which you can add to your estimate in Route.

Decide how much labor you will need to do the job; a crew of two is usually sufficient. Don’t forget to add your hourly labor into your contract.

Don’t forget about debris removal. Drywall installation is a messy job, and cleaning up takes time. Make sure you’re accounting for this in your costs.

Lastly, double check your work. Using free online drywall installation cost calculators or drywall bidding software is a great way to ensure your quote is accurate and that you're not forgetting anything.

Use this article as a guide to help you write a more complete drywall estimate for your proposals and watch your profit margines rise!

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